Sunday, 7 November 2010

The twenty most powerful people in Azeroth

With Forbes publishing their list of the most powerful people on the planet this week, it got me thinking: who are the most powerful people in Azeroth at the start of Cataclysm? For the purposes of this list, I've only included humanoids; dragons, demons and the like have been left out.

I'm sure your list will differ, so debate away!

1. The Jailer of the Damned
Straight in at number one this year, Bolvar Fordragon has taken on what is probably the hardest (and most powerful) roles Azeroth has to offer. With the fall of Arthas, Bolvar heroically sacrificed himself to take control of the Scourge and prevent it running amok in Azeroth. Bolvar vies with Thrall as one of the nicest guys in Azeroth, but the fact remains that whatever is left of him controls a giant army of undead minions. Should he choose to unleash it, for good or evil, it would be the most powerful force on Azeroth once more, under his complete control. All of this makes him the most powerful person on Azeroth.

2. Sylvanas Windrunner
Even under the relatively close oversight of Thrall, Sylvanas's apothecaries managed to create a blight so powerful that it harmed Arthas himself. Under the unsophisticated supervision of Garrosh, she has thrived, using both military might and Azeroth's equivalent of WMD to cut a swathe through Gilneas. A Lich Queen in all but name, her authority at home is unquestioned and her forces were barely halted at Gilneas City. For any other playable faction, the question "would they win if they took on the whole of Azeroth?" has a clear answer: "no". For the Forsaken it's "hmmmm, maybe...if they planned it right." That's what makes Sylvanas the number two on this list.

3. Varian Wrynn
Repulsive egomaniac he may be, but you have to hand it to Varian when it comes to old-fashioned rule by force. He's building castles to keep the peasants from revolting and his troops are everywhere. As a result, there's no serious challenge to his leadership of his nation and he has a large and disciplined army. That makes him number three.

4. Thrall
He may be this year's biggest faller, but Thrall still matters more than any other orc. Despite handing over the formal title of Warchief to Garrosh, if Thrall ever came back to reclaim the title, all but a hardcore group of Garrosh loyalists would welcome him with open arms. Couple this with his links into the Earthen Ring and he's still one of the most powerful people in Azeroth. He may be a little busy being loved-up with Aggra right now, but the old fella's still got it.

5. Trade Prince Steamwheedle
Azeroth's man of mystery. We don't even know the real name of the head of the Steamwheedle Cartel, but they're everywhere. He may not have a large standing army, but he's got the resources to hire one pretty quickly if he needs to. His neutral position between the Alliance and Horde, combined with huge wealth, gives him huge bargaining power, Cataclysm or no.

6. Cho'gall
A member of both the Shadow Council and Chief of the Twilight's hammer clan, Cho'gall is one of the major forces behind the Cataclysm. He'd rate more highly if he was his own man (or should that be ogre? ogres?), but he's really just a pawn for C'Thun.

7= Tyrande Whisperwind / Malfurion Stormrage
Whilst the night elves aren't the greatest force in Azeroth, Tyrande and Malfurion are arguably the wisest leaders out there, so they make the best of limited resources, which gives them influence beyond mere numbers.

9. Varok Saurfang
He may be sitting on his backside in Northrend at the moment, but the Orcish military's true loyalty lies with Saurfang, not Garrosh. If it came to a power struggle, there's no doubting who the winner would be. Saurfang may be holding back for now, but his is real power of the "boots on the ground" variety, which beats official titles every time.

10. Muradin Bronzebeard
The newly unified dwarf nation is a potentially powerful force, but is riven by divisions. The loyalty of Moira Thaurissan and her Dark Iron followers is questionable at best and betrayal from within is a real possibility. This makes Muradin's hold on power rather tenuous, even if the forces he commands are theoretically strong.

11. Garrosh Hellscream
What? The Warchief of the Horde outside the top 10? In normal times, this would seem strange, but Garrosh is in a very weak position right now. He doesn't even have the full backing of orcs themselves, let alone the rest of the horde. The Tauren mistrust him after what happened with Cairne, Vol'jin's trolls are close to seceding, and Sylvanas openly defies him. Garrosh is the classic case of "all mouth and no trousers". He talks big, but his true power is very limited.

12. Lor'Themar
Despite winning Azerothian Paperclip Collector's Man Of The Year for the third year running, Lor'Themar has yet to show that his unrivalled skills in the efficient procurement of office stationery translate to the broader world stage. His simple slogan of "Hey, at least I'm not Kael'Thas" is enough to keep him in power for now, but in times of war, the Sin'dorei may turn to more experienced leaders such as Liadrin.

13. Moira Thaurissan
Moira's Dark Irons may be mistrusted by the other dwarves, but her heritage gives her a powerful claim to the throne that some may support. A bid for power may not be too far away.

14. Magatha Grimtotem
Following her involvement with the death of Cairne, Magatha has lost her direct influence in Thunder Bluff. However, the Grimtotem are still a strong force and her links to Twilight's Hammer mean she may rise again.

15. Baine Bloodhoof
The tauren are a proud and noble people, but their leader has been thrust into the job unexpectedly, in a situation where mistrust between the tauren and orcs is at an all-time high. It's not yet clear whether Baine has the skills to handle this situation.

16. Jaina Proudmoore
Whilst the forces under her direct command are limited, they are supplemented by her powerful magic, particularly her unique: "make an army size portal to anywhere whenever the plot demands it" spell. This would make them an effective fighting force in practice, as they could run rings around conventional armies.

17. Vol'jin
Vol'jin is skilled leader and a hero to his people, having led them to their new home in the newly renamed Darkspear Isles. However, the Darkspear are few and he has powerful enemies, not least Garrosh himself. It will take all Vol'jin's skill to keep himself and his people alive through the troubled times of Cataclysm.

18. Genn Greymane
The people of Gilneas were once a powerful nation, but the Worgen curse and subsequent Forsaken invasion have hit them hard. They are a homeless people now, and would struggle without the assistance of the Alliance. However, the leadership skils Genn has shown during the recent years of turmoil should see them rebuild rapidly.

19. Trade Prince Gallywix
Probably the least secure of all the faction leaders in his position, he has a rag-tag band of Goblins under him, who mostly hate his guts. Getting out of that sticky situation may prove a little tricky for a minor trade prince.

20. Gelbin Mekkatorque
He may have a mechanostrider with frikkin' laser beams, but Mekkatorque couldn't even organise the retaking of Gnomeregan from a bunch of Troggs. His real power is very limited.


  1. Haha, awesome idea! I think you need to include Tirion Fordring and Darion Mograine on that list though, for two major reasons - they're neutral parties. This has significant weight, as neither faction would want to piss off either the Argent Dawn or the Knights of the Ebon Blade so much that they withdraw their support.

    Another reason Fordring should rank high on this list is because of how universally respected he is. I think he is one of the few people who could disagree with or oppose a decision by Varian that Varian would actually listen to, since he's so well regarded, and because of his paladin history.

    As for the Horde, I think Fordring would be one of the few humans that the Horde would trust wholeheartedly due to his reputation, but also because of his close friendship with Eitrigg, one of Thrall's closest advisors.

  2. @Rades

    I think Tirion and Darion would have been next on my list - they're influential, but I'm not sure how many troops they could really put on the ground. The death knights seem to have scattered to the four winds now that Arthas has gone, so it's arguable that they owe more loyalty to their respective factions than Acherus now.

    As far as I can tell, Tirion has retreated to his stronghold in EPL in Cataclysm - it's hard to judge how much real clout he has beyond the respect the Alliance hold him in.

    The really tricky one to miss out was Med'an. The background material suggests he's quite important, but since he doesn't even show up in game, it's hard to way his influence.

    Eitrigg is an interesting one. It's arguable that he should be there somewhere. I suspect we'd unleash some gnome-rage if Mekkatorque got dropped in favour of him though!

  3. I thought about bringing up Med'an but wasn't sure if you read the comics & knew about him! He's truly a wild card but also such a gaping vacancy from not being in-game (yet?). You were probably right in not even mentioning him, haha.

    As for Fordring, I guess I was thinking of Tirion not necessarily in literal power, like how big an army he could gather, but rather in the sense of like "if this person wanted to, could his decisions impact the entire world?"

    I think that if right now, when the death of Arthas is still so fresh in everyone's mind, Fordring were to approach both factions and say "There is a new threat and we need to work together to fight it" that both Horde & Alliance would grudgingly obey. Contrast that to someone they *don't* respect, like Rhonin, who attempted to do this very same thing with Ulduar, and that's what I had in mind when I was thinking "powerful."

    Awesome topic, it's really gotten me to think about the different power players. :D

  4. Definitely missing draenei! Velen commands much personal power, as well as the leadership of an entire race, as well as being allied with The Broken. It's surprising to see Magatha above Jaina, also, because Jaina holds a lot of influence inside the Alliance whereas Magatha's is waning.

  5. Good point, Pewter. Leaving Velen out was an oversight on my part. He certainly should be on the list, which means bad news for Mekkatorque!

    I've put Magatha where she is because, although her influence in Thunder Bluff is waning, her true power in the Twilight's Hammer has been revealed, which wasn't previously apparent.

  6. I'm definately no expert, and I guess you'll be able to waylay my arguments in a matter of seconds but anyways.

    I Partly agree with Rades about Tirion and Darion, but i'd like to mention Rhonin, yes, I've read the books and knaak's mary sues so it's a little biased, but still.

    Even though they have been severely harmed after the assault against magic of Malygos, the Kirin Tor is still a great force, even though I doubt they'd attack, if they would, it would be quite devastating. The Kirin tor ofcourse also has the silver covenant which he has almost direct control over through Vereesa.
    Also, he is very close to Korialstrasz and has ties to Alexstrasza and the Wyrmrest Accord Through this, in which he could probably exert a bit of influnce if he wanted.

    Anyways, great list with nice descriptions,